24 Jan The most desirable villages around Cambridge: a building surveyor’s viewpoint
In a county like Cambridgeshire, you are spoilt for choice for picturesque villages and market towns. For anyone unsure of where to aim their property search, CambridgeshireLive has reported on the 5 most desirable villages around Cambridge and Peterborough.
We asked our local Cambridgeshire building surveyor to take a glance over the shortlist and give their take on the winners.
Top of the list of desirable villages was the Huntingdonshire’s Hemingford Abbots. This is a beautiful riverside village packed with characterful 16th and 17th century cottages, many of which are listed. There’s also an abundance of thatched properties, lending the area a ‘chocolate box’ image. I often find that buyers are nervous of older properties, especially if they have thatched roofs, but there’s no need to be concerned. A full building survey would be recommended for these types of houses, and would show up any serious defects or maintenance issues. A survey will also provide an overview of the condition of a thatched roof. Both water reed and straw thatch can be found across the Cambridge region; they both last a fair while, having lifespans of 25 and 50 years, respectively. I often advise clients on the best ways to maximise the lifespan of a thatched roof, such as by keeping the ridge in good condition and regularly checking for damaged areas.
Wothorpe in Peterborough came in second. This one was initially a bit of a surprise to me. The village has some lovely properties, but it is small without many amenities. It is, however, right on the edge of the historic market town of Stamford, which is known for its superb independent shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as excellent local schools. If you are house-hunting in Wothorpe, Stamford is definitely worth a look too. Its Georgian limestone architecture is hard to fault.
Next up was the South Cambridgeshire village of Little Shelford. This is often cited as one of the prettiest villages in Cambridgeshire. I’m partial to the Thai food at the local pub – not something that you often find in a village like this! I recently carried out a level 3 full building survey of a stunning detached house in the village. It dated from the 1700s but had several modern extensions, and had previously been used as a fine dining restaurant before being converted back to a residential property. Properties here tend to get snapped up quickly owing to the village’s beautiful setting and its proximity to its neighbour, Great Shelford, which has its own school, deli and, crucially, a rail connection to central London.
Barton, a small picturesque place only 5 miles away from its rival Little Shelford, came a deserving fourth place. Residents have a lot on their doorstep, with two pubs and a cafe within walking distance, as well as some lovely independent local shops (and an M&S!). As with Hemingford Abbots, there are a lot of listed, thatched properties here, and walking through the village you get a real sense of the history of the place. Houses in this area tend to have been well looked after, and although buyers often worry about the period properties having many defects, I always say that the fact that they have been standing for hundreds of years should provide reassurance. The village does also have some more modern properties, and buyers may consider a homebuyer survey if the property was built fairly recently and is in good condition. For those for whom money is no object, there is a cracking house for sale on Wimpole Road at the moment, with a tennis court, cinema room and swimming pool complex….not a candidate for a homebuyer report though – this beast would definitely need a full structural inspection!
Last but not least comes Little Abington. Another South Cambridgeshire village, this is stuffed with thatched, period properties, many of which are Grade II listed. Little Abington and its neighbour, Great Abington, share a well-regarded primary school, a post office/shop and a fantastic pub. Little Abington is the quieter of the sister villages, but with only half a mile between them (albeit over the River Granta), they often get grouped into one entity.